Financiers Aim to Unify XML Standards

FRAMINGHAM (07/07/2000) - A new financial services industry group is trying to weed through two dozen existing XML-based financial standards to come up with one universal lexicon.

The XML ISO 15022 Committee Advisory Group was established June 20. It was created to map conflicts among the existing lexicons and to make a recommendation to the International Organization for Standards in Geneva by year's end.

"It's a big list," said John Goeller, director of electronic trading at Salomon Smith Barney Holdings Inc. in New York and the committee's chairman.

Goeller said the emerging XML standards fall into two categories - those that cover transactions such as stock purchases and those that help in the research of companies.

For example, Open Financial Exchange (OFX) lets financial institutions communicate with customers about online banking, bill presentment and payment and investments.

In the research side, Financial Business Reporting Language standardizes the way companies publish financial reports, which could make it easier for analysts or investors to compare profits and losses of publicly traded companies.

Although these standards are based on XML and overlap when it comes to content, they address different concerns, are backed by different groups and cover different types of data. In addition, old standards like OFX are being converted to XML.

Standards also differ based on their origins, according to Dushyant Shahrawat, an analyst at Needham, Massachusetts-based TowerGroup. The ones most likely to survive are backed by industry groups, he said.

Financial Information Exchange Markup Language, for example, is being developed by the Technical Committee of U.K.-based FIX Protocol Ltd., a consortium of more than 20 financial firms.

Other standards are backed by smaller groups. Financial XML, for example, was released by Integral Corp. in Palo Alto, California, and is backed by Sun Microsystems Inc. and Chase Manhattan Corp in New York.

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